You can’t read any business news today without hearing about The Great Resignation—American workers have been leaving their jobs in record numbers. If you’re a business owner or a top executive, the turnover that is most troubling is that of managers. Good managers make a difference to an organization! A report by Visier indicates that highly effective managers can drive 48% higher profits for organizations than average managers.
Manager burnout is at an all-time high, and this depletion can lead to turnover. Managers are like the sandwich generation of the workplace because they are constantly balancing the conflicting needs of employees and upper management. Their work hours often balloon, with no overtime or extra days off. And, managers are under pressure to maintain productivity, even when the company is short staffed.
So, in this time of volatile employment markets, how can you be sure you don't lose your best managers? Here are three tips to reduce manager overwhelm and improve your chances of retaining your best talent.
1. Share the strategic big picture
If you’ve seen my prior blog posts on strategic planning, you know that this practice is critical to the success of an organization. But having a strategic plan is just the first step---next, you’ve got to be sure to share it with everyone who works for you. Without the compass of a strategic plan (or even just a mission statement), managers may not have a sense of the long-term and short-term goals of the organization. And, as economic and market forces are currently unpredictable, your managers may feel like they don’t know where to focus. Whether it’s in a company-wide memo, or a meeting of managers, take the time to orient your managers towards the strategic focus of your organization so that they can know your priorities.
2. Help them brush up on their soft skills
The bulk of the work of being a manager involves soft skills like decision-making, communication, emotional intelligence, time management, and goal setting. In today’s fast-paced and unpredictable workplaces, the demands on managers’ skill sets is higher than ever. A lot of managers rely on their innate abilities or have learned these soft skills through experience over time. But, this means that without some formal attention to cultivating these skills, that they remain underdeveloped, and that leads to stress and burnout. In my leadership courses and my coaching practice, I help managers focus on practical steps that they can take to improve their soft skills right away. By investing in managers’ development, their confidence to manage improves, and their desire to seek employment elsewhere diminishes.
3. Check your policies and procedures
We often think of an employee handbook and the policies and procedures in it as guidance for employees, but they’re also important to managers who can use these as important decision aids. Managers’ most valuable asset is time, and not having enough guidance eats away at that time. Managers who work in organizations without updated policies and procedures have to make decisions on the same issues again and again, leading to both decision fatigue and the risk on unfair treatment. For instance, I worked with a company that didn’t formalize how annual vacation days could be secured, even though they generally preferred to give precedence to those with more seniority. Because there was no formal procedure, a brand new employee was able to take off a lot of time around the holidays, while a more senior person was denied that time. This lack of updated policy took up a lot of the managers’ time trying to resolve the issue and calm the disgruntled senior employee. How do you know what policies and procedures need changes? It’s a good idea to update employee handbooks annually, and hosting a small focus group with managers to discuss the handbook is a great way to learn where they want more formal policies.
How can you put these things into practice?
First, check out my upcoming Leadership Skills for Managers classes, where we tackle soft skills through practical, actionable steps. Or, if you want more targeted attention, call me to discuss my coaching programs.
Second, when is the last time you had an official strategic planning session and updated your employee handbook? If it’s been more than a year, it’s time to put those tasks on the calendar. If you keep putting them off, then consider outsourcing those tasks to me. I’m currently taking new client appointments for strategic planning sessions and employee handbook revisions. Click the button below to send me a message!